The road from Bangalore to Ooty is extremely scenic. Even if you are not a big fan of road trips, this is that one, you must add in your to do list. For sure, this one will add memories that one would remember for a lifetime.
Ooty is about 300 Kms from Bangalore and multiple route options are available. Each route offers different feel and vibe to the journey. However, its better to know, which one you should take and avoid.
For a better readability, I will keep the structure of the blog simple with structured Table of Content (TOC). If you are someone, who is looking for a specific info, can use TOC to jump to the required section instantly. But, if you are someone like me, who prefers to have that first-hand experience, before you actually hit the road, this is that blog you must not miss. I will be covering the below topics, but not limited to:
- Available route options and which one you should choose and why.
- Things to do and more importantly avoid.
- Places to cover enroute and once in Ooty.
- And of course, choosing your stay in Ooty.
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Table of Contents
I have always felt that the Journey begins during the planning phase itself. It starts with the homework about Route to Take to our final destination. Then finding that perfect Resort / Hotel / Homestay to feel spoiled during our vacation. And not to forget, another important part, the places to see and experience. These always fills me with excitement, living the journey beforehand. But the problem is, if not done in a planned manner, can become a daunting task in the end and can easily turn the whole vacation experience chaotic.
In today’s world, there is already an overflow of content out there. So, when it comes to one of the most visited touristic places, it is not difficult to lose sight of that one content which made real sense when you first came across it. But then when you are in your vacation and you need that one reference which you liked, you just cannot find it. Wouldn’t you agree? Happens with me always when I don’t bookmark that content or save that one video that I liked.
To make it simpler to remember, the journey can be divided into two parts:
- Bangalore to Mysore
- Mysore to Ooty
Bangalore to Mysore has further two options:
- Via New Mysore Express Highway – Needs no explanation, offers more than one would need for a hassle-free drive experience. In short, the only recommended route one should take.
- Via Kanakapura Road – Roads are patchy and drive experience is not good for a majority of the route.
Now coming to the second part of the journey, which is Mysore to Ooty, again two options are available:
- Via Kalahatti Ghat
- Via Gudalur
Kalahatti Ghat Route
This is one route usually preferred by many experienced travelers. Let’s look at few plus and minus points of the route:
Plus Points – Kalahatti Ghat Route
- The route is very scenic.
- The route due to its level of expertise required, one can feel the thrill of driving in this route. But one must be careful and follow basic hill driving etiquettes as frequent reporting of fatal accidents are common.
- Beautiful viewpoints enroute.
Minus points – Kalahatti Ghat Route
- Drive Experience required: Expert – So not suitable for New Drivers
- Can be dangerous, requires extreme caution.
- 36 Hairpin bends
- Roads are slippery and diagonal, and frequent accidents are reported on Hairpin bends.
- 20 KMPH is the speed limit in the ghats, which is a must for safety of travelers.
- Vehicle has to be in a good condition.
Things to keep in mind while driving in Kalahatti Ghat Route
- Vehicle should be in good condition, as you would mostly be driving in 2nd gear at 20Kmph.
- Not to overspeed in the ghats, roads are slippery and dangerous.
- Special caution to be taken due to the nature of the route. And if it’s raining, one must drive dead slow.
- Prior experience of driving in hills is a must.
Note: In this route, you will come across the famous Theppakadu Elephant Camp. Please note, it is only for 30 minutes in the morning and 30 minutes in the evening.
Morning: 08:30 AM to 09:00 AM
Evening: 05:30 PM to 06:00 PM
So, if you have this planned in your stop, please keep the timings in mind before planning your travel.
This route is best for those who wants an easy but yet scenic drive experience, offering multiple viewpoints enroute. Though, a little longer and adds about 45 minutes extra drive, but the experience it offers, makes it all worth.
Important: To take this route, take Right immediately after Madumalai Tiger Reserve check post. The route towards left leads to the Kalahatti ghats.
Plus points of Gudalur Route
- Scenic Route
- Multiple Viewpoints enroute like Pykara Dam, Pine Forest, Wenlock Downs, etc.
- Road conditions are good.
- Level of Driving expertise required: Beginner.
Minus points of Gudalur Route
- Extra 40 Km gets added to the final destination.
- Takes 30 to 45 mins more compared to another route.
Bandipur Tiger Reserve and Madumalai Tiger Reserve Crossing
This will definitely be the best part of the journey. A feeling of driving on the safari tracks in your own vehicle is something which is unbeatable. Though technically you are driving on the tar road which passes through two tiger reserves back-to-back. The surrounding greeneries, with Spotted Deers from time to time saying hello is out of the world experience. Peacocks, Bison, Sambar Deer, Sloth Bear and if you are extremely lucky you may even spot a Tiger or a Leopard.
When we entered Bandipur Tiger Reserve, I remembered, the Birder / Wildlife Enthusiast in me had a consolation booking to Bandipur Tiger Reserve after our current destination Ooty. I wished the journey through the forest goes on and on and never ends. The reserve has its own rules and regulations. One must not drive above 30 kmph and honking is not allowed. No stopping on the way. One is not allowed to switch off the engines to take photographs. And I feel that totally makes sense.
Once we reached the exit Check post of Bandipur Tiger Reserve, we noticed, just about 200 meters away, Madumalai Tiger Reserve check post is waiting to welcome us. One would immediately notice the way the feel of the forest changes, transitioning from Bandipur to Madumali Tiger Reserve. Both leaves you speechless in its own way.
Bangalore to Ooty Route Summary
The route options can be summarized in below set of Questions:
What route options are available for Bangalore to Ooty?
There are two route options available from Bangalore to Ooty:
- Via Kalahatti Ghat – The route has dangerous 36 Hairpin bends and requires the driving skill to be of an expert.
- Via Gudalur – The route is scenic and requires previous experience of driving in hills but need not be an expert. But still beginners with no experience of driving in hills is not recommended.
Which route avoids 36 hairpins?
The route via Gudalur avoids the 36 hairpins.
Can a new driver drive to Ooty?
No, not recommended. There are dangerous sharp 36 hairpin bends which requires expert level skills to drive through the hills. However, there is an alternate route available to avoid 36 hairpin bends, still not recommended for new drivers.
How far is Ooty from Bangalore?
Ooty is located at a distance of about 300 kms.
How many hour it takes to drive from Bangalore to Ooty?
6-7 hours of drive from Bangalore to Ooty is the minimum that one would need.
At What time Bandipur Gate Opens and Closes?
Bandipur Gate opens exactly at 06:00 AM and closes at 09:00 PM.
Where to Stay in Ooty?
There are multiple options available in Ooty from Luxury to not so expensive and budget hotels and resorts. I felt, Ooty being such a famous and one of the most visited tourist destinations, it gets very crowded, and cleanliness is not the way one would expect at a place like that. But, I believe, it is not because of people from Ooty, but perhaps due to travelers.
Where we stayed?
During our visit, we stayed at Hotel Lakeview Resort. It’s a beautiful property with 123 cottages which are basically independent Villas. Ooty lake is just about 1.5 km from the hotel. Each villa has a small sit out in front with two chairs. The Villa is quite huge which offers a living hall and a bedroom. Cleanliness is decent enough. One can spend some quite time within the property. Some options to take pictures in and around the villa. The only drawback was the surroundings did not match the vibe of the resort mostly due to littering here and there. Added note, on Web noticed some mention about Paranormal activities within the property, but we did not notice anything as such. Review by one of the Guests at TripAdvisor.
Other Stay Options
Other stay options include Tranqville Resorts, Taj, Sterling Ooty Elk Hill, Sterling Fern Hill, SaffronStays Milton Abott Estate etc. However, I would recommend, if you have more than two night of stay, recommended would be to book stay in Coonoor. Coonoor is about 25 kms from Ooty, but the view it offers is absolutely raw in good way. Beautiful hills, close to nature, romantic skies, and what not. Coonoor leaves you with that feeling.
Look for other properties
Best Time to Visit
September to June is ideally the best time to visit Ooty. However, April to June, is the peak season. Ooty gets overcrowded during this time. Avoid rainy season by all means.
Check my blog on Mysore Expressway for detailed information:
Must haves for Long Distance Travel by CAR
- A reliable Tyre inflator which not only does the job, but at the same time is also not bulky, taking all the space. After all, for long distance travels, every inch counts. Here is one of the coolest Tyre inflators I have ever come across:
- An additional organizer which gives you space to keep mobile and other loose items in a clean way.
- A decent trunk organizer, which is big enough to hold big items, still not taking much boot space.
- Another handy, yet functional, item to have in your car is “Headrest Hook”
- Trust me, when it comes to comfort, long distance travel, you definitely need a good reliable seat cushion which will keep your legs free of numbness in long drives. Tested and trusted multiple times is this car seat cushion by GiGi G:
- A Blind spot mirror is always a life saver.
- Dashcam – Who wouldn’t want a dashcam that is easy on pocket, but also does the job in an efficient way. Plus, top build quality, amazing customer service and what not? Your search for the ultimate Dashcam ends here.
- Quality microfiber cloth is a must have.
- Next in line is the good Glass Cleaner
- Last but not least, the ultimate hack for cleaning extremely dirty glass after every travel. Specially, comes handy when you are traveling back from your vacation.
Places not to miss
On top of the list would be Wenlock Downs, Otty Tea Garden, Pine Tree forest, Pykara boating point, are some of the amazing places to choose from.
Please check my blog on “Places to visit in Ooty” to plan your travel better to this wonderous place.
If you still have any questions, feel free to ask me here in the comments section or reach out to me at any of Social Media Handles and ask directly. Cheers!
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By the way, earlier in the blog I mentioned about our extended booking for Bandipur Safari Lodge by JLR, but then we had to cancel that. Instead, we travelled to K. Gudi Wilderness Camp and spent two nights there. Have already shared two blogs from the visit:
Important to Remember
- Kalahatti Ghat is not open to outside vehicles while descending. However, outside vehicles are permitted to take the hill up.
- While returning, by default google will suggest descending via Kalahatti Ghat. One needs to exit via Pykara lake route.
- While exiting via Pykara Lake route, google will again suggest a muddy road, just stick to the main highway without taking the diversion.
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Other Destinations in Tamil Nadu:
Tamil Nadu has plethora of options to offer travelers from Salem to Rameswaram to Madurai and many other beautiful and historic places.
One such experience from our visit to Rameshwaram is in this Documentary that we did:
Gears used in the Trip
Iphone 11 Pro and Iphone 13 for wide shots